Britain could face a third wave of coronavirus, a top scientist has said.
Professor Mark Woolhouse, a member of the government’s virus modelling group, believes lockdowns only delay the problem and will not permanently stop the disease spreading.
It comes as the UK appears to be in the grip of a second wave, six months after national lockdown restrictions were initially imposed in March.
Supermarkets are once again rationing items including toilet roll amid fears of panic buying.
Prof Woolhouse, an infectious diseases expert at Edinburgh University, appeared on BBC’s Andrew Marr show this morning.
When quizzed about a third wave, he replied: ‘Well that is entirely possible. The scenario mentioned earlier does actually include this possibility.
‘This is another demonstration that lockdown doesn’t solve the problem – it defers it. That is why we need some kind of cavalry on the horizon.
‘If we think a vaccine isn’t going to be available in six months, or 12 months or two years, or whenever it may be, we do need alternatives.’
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is currently facing a huge backlash from Conservative backbenchers for pushing through coronavirus restrictions without consulting MPs first.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has defended the government’s new restrictions – including a 10pm curfew for pubs and restaurants – insisting there was ‘definitely science’ behind them.
Anyone who breaches the new ‘rule of six’ or fails to wear a face covering could also now be fined £200.
But government advisor Professor Graham Medley revealed how he couldn’t recall the curfew being discussed by the government’s SAGE committee.
Mr Dowden said: ‘There is definitely science behind it, that’s why we’re requiring people to be seated in pubs and restaurants, so that stops the flow of them to and from the bar. We are reducing the closing times to stop people staying later and drinking.
‘And the point about all of this is that everyone has their part to play. If we all play by the rules, we can ensure that there are not further, more draconian restrictions.’
More than 17,000,000 people – around a quarter of the population – will be subject to tougher coronavirus restrictions with new measures introduced in Cardiff and Swansea from 6pm tonight.
People have been banned from meeting others they do not live with indoors and will not be allowed to go into or leave the areas without a reasonable excuse.
Households in Wigan, Stockport, Blackpool and Leeds were also ordered to stop mixing from Saturday.
Stricter rules are already in force across large parts of north-west England, West Yorkshire, the North East and the Midlands, as well as parts of west Scotland.
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